Mumbai 2008: Bigger than Ayodhya 1992
by Sandhya Jain on 06 Dec 2008 2 Comments

Girilal Jain compared the demolition of Babri Masjid by faceless actors on 6 December 1992 with the surfacing of the Patal Ganga in the Indian polity, an event of such magnitude that it literally transforms the landscape. This riverine symbolism made a literal appearance in November 2004, when the arrest of Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati on cooked up charges of murder was followed by a colossal tsunami that wrecked unprecedented havoc on the southern coastline.

More recently, the Maharashtra government’s decision to arrest Sadhvi Pragya on trumped up charges of involvement in the 29 September Malegaon blast was succeeded by an audacious assault from the sea, a veritable typhoon of blood that held the world in thrall for 62 hours and left nearly 200 dead, and over 300 wounded.

A common factor in all three episodes is the presence in India of religious traditions not born on this soil, whose adherents seek determinedly to hinder Hindu civilisational affirmation, which alone can give this nation its political coherence and social stability.    

The sheer magnitude of the horror of Mumbai 2008, however, has made it bigger than Ayodhya 1992, though that movement was preceded by at least three years of public mobilization on a national scale. At that time, the unscripted demolition of the decrepit Babri structure so frightened the movement’s architects that they literally scattered in confusion, putting an effective lid on the process of rebuilding the Ram Temple at the birthplace of Hindu tradition’s greatest avatar and exemplary king. Indeed, so terrorized was the principal leader by the secular ignominy that followed, that he grabbed the first opportunity to shift allegiance from Ayodhya to Ajmer (ironically, the latter is also a city with a famed disputed and converted temple-mosque!)

Mumbai has now brought the issue of the civilisational basis of India’s nationhood to the centre-stage once again. An astonishing, but nonetheless divine coincidence during the unfolding of this gruesome tragedy was the death of former Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh, whose divisive invocation of caste inflamed northern India and forced the BJP to launch the Ram rath yatra in 1990. His virtually unnoticed demise signals the eclipse of caste as a divisive factor in the polity.  

Mumbai marks a decisive end to Hindu acquiescence in Muslim (or minority) appeasement. As well-heeled citizens, unnerved at the prospect of falling victim to a jihad that has hitherto targetted the ordinary and the ill-endowed, as green flags fluttering above jhuggis invoke fears of ascendant Islam, the emerging reality suggests contemporary India is inflamed with righteous indignation and rejects minority separatism that demands appeasement and makes Hindus feel cornered in their own country (for native Hindus have no other motherland, or holy land, no second or superior allegiance).

Advocates and apologists of Islam have lost political cachet, whether they realize it or not. For whatever the nature and extent of future jihadi violence in India, Islam is not going to triumph on this soil. Jihadis know this, their political masters know this; hence we must look elsewhere for the reasons for the continuing spiral of violence.

As the Indian Army fought to defeat the embedded jihadis, who specially targetted Americans, British, and Israelis (all fellow Abrahamic religionists), besides Indian and other guests, Mumbai became a battlefield of conflicting faiths, all alien to this soil. As I said on 28 November 2008, “a proxy war is being fought in the Indian State… we need to protect our sovereignty with a fitting response

Unlike most Indian commentators, I do not believe that Mumbai is different from other jihadi attacks on India because the principal targets were not ordinary civilians, but American, British and Israeli citizens. Many Indians have accepted the monstrous view that these nations have a legitimate say in deciding the Indian response because their citizens were attacked on this soil. I disagree. In my view, the old inter-Abrahamic conflict has become more convoluted and complicated, and Mumbai was chosen as a proxy battlefield because of India’s porous security. There is a lot of old colonial and contemporary neo-colonial history and animosity entwined here.

Meanwhile, it is obvious that the present brain dead regime is incapable of crafting any response whatsoever. Sadly, not much can be expected from the regime that expects to succeed it after the general elections. The NDA allowed the Clinton Administration to start messing with Kashmir, once strictly maintained as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan; it compounded this surrender by massing troops on the border after the 13 December 2001 attack on Parliament, and then failing to act under a US diktat.

And now – just as the shameful nuclear deal was managed in a de facto bipartisan manner – both the Congress and the BJP have literally out-sourced India’s pride and national security to the lame duck Bush and nascent Obama Administrations, by supinely asking Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to exert pressure on Pakistan to cooperate in the Mumbai blasts probe by handing over suspects to India. They have meekly accepted her admonitions not to aggravate regional conflict.

America’s panic follows a staunch display of political spine from Pakistan’s political elite, who have across the board threatened to withdraw troops from the Afghan border, where they are assisting the “war on terror”, to the Indian front, should tensions escalate. Yesterday, we carried former Pakistan envoy Maleeha Lodhi’s article in a London daily, wherein she argued forcefully that America must treat Pakistan as valued ally rather than as “hired help;” it must plan to withdraw from Afghanistan as no goals are likely to be achieved there; it must cease strikes on Pakistani territory; and if it does intervene in the region, it should help Pakistan acquire Kashmir! I am not aware of a similar bold articulation of Indian national interests by any Indian diplomat, serving or retired.

Washington has been quick on the uptake, and hence Condoleezza Rice made no promises of getting even two of the 20 men wanted by India. It is painfully evident, however, that the Government-on-its-way-out and the Government-that-hopes-to-come-in have left it to her to give them a consolation lollipop. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, pressed Pakistan to act more decisively against militant extremists in its domain; but political observers are not expecting anything tangible from these diplomatic noises.

Security analysts – and public opinion at large – do not believe that Pakistan cannot control the so-called rogue elements in its military and ISI, should it so desire. Both expert and public opinion converge in the desire – and the desirability – of a fitting response. The only question is – what should this be, and what factors should be kept in mind while deciding a possible course of action.

One course of action would be to selectively strike terrorist camps inside Pakistan. Another, perhaps simultaneous course could be to complete half-done tasks such as the recovery of Occupied Kashmir. India should also find the courage to offer the suffering citizens of the failed State of Pakistan a chance to return to the original country, province by province, by renouncing Islam and returning to sanatana dharma. Islam has given the region nothing but grief; the military glory associated with Islam is a distant thing, unlikely to be resurrected before India’s combative Hindu population. In contrast, Islam can make inroads in Europe and America because of the moral collapse of Christianity.  

As Washington prepares for the “third Clinton Presidency,” New Delhi must on no account join the American military action in Afghanistan, or acquiesce in America occupying part of Pakistan to launch aggression on Iran. Russia has already extended a protective hand of friendship to Teheran, and Islamabad’s unhappiness would evoke sympathy in Beijing. Far from securing itself, New Delhi could find itself in a very sticky situation.

It may be pertinent to remember that though America pretends to be a superpower, the financial meltdown triggered by its own greedy corporates has effectively ended its global hegemony. Rising powers like Russia, China, Venezuela, are countries with a core national religion and culture. In other words, they do not accord primacy to Abrahamic faiths seeking international reach and control, and will not permit them political space, much less ascendance. India must decide if it wants to be a camp follower of the global has-beens, or seek a place in the emerging new international order.

The author is Editor

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